From Publishers Weekly
A granddaughter sifts through her grandmother's rich and mysterious life in Pulitzer finalist Scott's latest. As a teenager in 1946, Sally Werner experiences something between rape and seduction at the hands of her cousin, resulting in a baby, family shame and her running away. Each time Sally feels her past catching up with her, she finds a new town and assumes a new identity, eventually graduating from taking the charity—and more—of others to supporting herself. A doomed love affair, a cat and mouse chase with the brutal father of a second child, and a longing for safety and freedom keep Sally moving until she settles down and her daughter, Penelope, inherits her restless energy. As the novel, and Sally's life, draws to a close, we get a final look at this remarkable woman through the eyes of her granddaughter, also named Sally, and through the younger Sally's once absent father, Abe. A retelling of the archetypal American journey from a female perspective, this rendering of the perils and triumphs facing women is imbued with a questing spirit. (Apr.)
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Scott, her literary gifts recognized with MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, is profoundly attuned to humankind’s endless quest to channel life’s wildness. In this enrapturing saga of an invincible woman who transforms herself the way a landscape changes with the seasons, Scott draws on a matrix of mythic themes and pastoral sensibilities to explore age-old conflicts between willfulness and powers beyond our control. Sally Werner, the daughter of harshly religious German immigrants, is a lovely, hardworking 16-year-old in 1946 in rural Pennsylvania. She can’t resist her war-veteran cousin’s offer of a motorcycle ride, or ward off his advances, but she does have the mettle to leave her newborn son and run away to seek her fortune. Dazzling descriptions are interrupted by heart-revving suspense as Sally finds refuge and trouble in struggling small towns, charming people with her glorious singing and fleeing whenever danger looms. As is her wont, Scott bends time as Sally’s granddaughter pieces together her family’s fractured history of violent passion and indelible guilt helplessly enacted in a place of misery, beauty, and mystery. --Donna Seaman